DNR News: DNR celebrates 100 years of conservation success

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– DNR News –

DNR Director Dan Eichinger is shown on a hunting walk with his dog.March 30, 2021

Contact: Ed Golder 517-643-6406 or John Pepin, 906-226-1352

From restoration and recovery to resiliency and relevancy, DNR celebrates 100 years of conservation success

A cover from the November-December 1965 issue of Michigan Conservation is shown.One hundred years ago today, the Michigan Department of Conservation – the precursor to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – was created as part of a state government reorganization effort by then Gov. Alex Groesbeck.

The legislation approved a century ago today combined numerous components of state government into the departments of agriculture, industrial and labor, and conservation.

“That was a time when the conservation movement and the fish and wildlife movement across the country was just kind of getting born,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger.

In Michigan, those early Department of Conservation efforts focused on restoration of damaged landscapes and the recovery of game species and the habitats they live within. That work would characterize much of the new department’s activities over its first 100 years.

Eichinger said the Department of Conservation was created to be a hub where several state functions could be housed, managed and provided for. These activities included Michigan’s state parks program, game and fish law enforcement and the nascent movement toward protecting and conserving fish and wildlife and the places they depend upon.

“We’ve seen that mission expand and grow over the intervening 100 years from just being state parks, just doing some wildlife reintroductions, just doing fish stocking to now having a really expansive menu of areas that we work in,” Eichinger said.

The cover of the November-December 1968 issue of Michigan Conservation is shown.In 1968, the name of the Michigan Department of Conservation was changed to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to reflect widening responsibilities.

Over the decades, several key pieces of legislation worked to aid the department in its mission to remain “committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.”

In an interview earlier this month on the program “Naturally Speaking” on WGVU-FM in Grand Rapids, Eichinger discussed the importance of significant wildlife species recoveries achieved in Michigan.

Some of these species that have attained recovered status include the Kirtland’s warbler, wild turkey, bald eagle and gray wolf.

“These are really important milestones because it’s sort of proof-positive that when you have the alignment of resources, the alignment of talent and the alignment of partnership, we can be successful in recovering species that were critically endangered and that is not only providing a regulatory framework to provide for their long-term conservation, but actually doing the really hard work on the ground, making sure that those habitats are conserved and that they’re restored,” Eichinger told program host Shelly Irwin.

Eichinger said none those alignment activities happen in a vacuum.

The cover of the July-August 1970 issue of Michigan Natural Resources magazine is shown.“That’s one of the remarkable things about what we have here in this state, that the story of the Department of Natural Resources is as much a story about the citizen conservationists across our state and throughout our history who have supported our work, stood side-by-side with us as we have worked to recover species, help to identify places the department needs to be pointing effort and pointing work towards,” Eichinger said. “The species that we have stewardship responsibility for are the fortunate beneficiaries of that tremendous partnership with state government, our citizens, federal actors, the non-profit community. It’s a fantastic and important part of the story of conservation.”

Eichinger said the DNR’s mission is necessarily long-term and makes the department “think over the horizon.”

“That’s one of the things I think is really gratifying about this work and I think why the folks who work in this space are so passionate about it – that the resources that we enjoy today in the good condition that they’re in is because of work that was done, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Eichinger said. “Folks who had long-term vision to say, ‘I might not necessarily see all the fruits of my efforts today, but I know future generations will be able to derive benefit from them.’”

Eichinger said that perspective is a wonderful way to think about your work, and he’s excited to “work in a space that necessarily requires that sort of long-term thinking.”

Looking ahead, Eichinger said the next century for the department will be about resiliency and relevancy.

The cover of the March-April 1972 issue of Michigan Natural Resources magazine is shown.“We obviously are dealing with the negative effects of climate change and how that’s expressing itself on the landscapes that we manage,” Eichinger said. “And so, we’re going to need to start to pivot our management approach just a bit to be thinking a little bit more about how we create resiliency on the landscape in the face of change through climate change: invasive species, fish and wildlife health, those kinds of things.”

Eichinger said the department also needs to focus on remaining relevant and valued to not only a core constituency, but to those who may not have yet begun to enjoy the outdoors to the extent possible.

“It’s really important for us to make sure that the work that we do is seen, it is valued, is understood and is available and accessible to all the people in the state of Michigan,” Eichinger said. “That’s what’s going to make our work relevant.”

Throughout 2021, the DNR is commemorating and celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the department. Plans for in-person events have been scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic.

DNR staffers have created a webpage at Michigan.gov/DNRCentennial to link the public to several ways to participate in exploration of the past century of the department’s efforts. As part of this, the DNR has produced 100 ways to celebrate the centennial.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is issuing a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Centennial Day proclamation.

Eichinger said the best way the department and everyone else in Michigan can celebrate the shared success of the past century of conservation commitment is to get outdoors.

“Find a way that you and your loved ones can connect with nature, find a pathway that you’ve never walked down, find your way or make your way to one of our beautiful state parks, one of the tremendous hidden places in our state forest system, wherever it is that you go, find a way and find a reason to get outdoors and share that with special people in your life,” Eichinger said. “There’s no better way to celebrate the work that we’ve all been able to accomplish than by simply getting outdoors and enjoying what we have in this beautiful state.”

For more information on the wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resource conservation activities the DNR is responsible for, visit Michigan.gov/DNR.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Additional DNR centennial related photos available for media use are available.

Eichinger: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger is shown on a hunting walk with his dog.

MC 1965: The cover of the November-December 1965 issue of Michigan Conservation magazine is shown.

MC 1968: The cover of the November-December 1968 issue of Michigan Conservation magazine is shown.

MNR 1970: The cover of the July-August 1970 issue of Michigan Natural Resources magazine is shown. The name of the publication was changed after 1968 to reflect the change in the name of the department from the Department of Conservation to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

MNR 1972: The cover of the March-April 1972 issue of Michigan Natural Resources magazine is shown. The name of the publication was changed after 1968 to reflect the change in the name of the department from the Department of Conservation to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Portrait: A Michigan Department of Natural Resources portrait of DNR Director Dan Eichinger./

Enjoy responsible recreationStay informed, stay safe: Mask up MichiganDNR COVID-19 response
MDOT: Is Infrastructure Week more than a punchline?

MDOT: Is Infrastructure Week more than a punchline?

Is Infrastructure Week about to be more than a punchline? 

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/8238998

On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, analysis and speculation about what President Biden is likely to include in his much-anticipated proposal to address the nation’s inadequate and crumbling infrastructure.

I-beam placement at 9 Mile over I-75 in Metro Region.

Lloyd Brown, director of communications for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), returns to the podcast to talk about what he’s hearing.

Will “Infrastructure Week” move from punchline to serious discussion with results? The Biden administration signaled an intention to roll out tangible ideas, indicating with Monday’s announcement to expand offshore wind turbines that infrastructure means more than roads and bridges.

We know U.S. Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg has been working a lot of rooms, speaking with Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike. That plays to his strength as a collegial broker and strong communicator. And as a policy wonk, there is no doubt he’s quickly getting up to speed on the issues. Is this too much pressure?

In an interview with CNBC, Sec. Pete talked about why infrastructure offers a solid return on investment.

Other links and references from this week’s show: 

– Forbes on what we know now about the president’s plan.
– Roll Call on a discussion about restoring earmarks.
– The Wall Street Journal (subscription) on the president’s push for offshore wind projects.

Listen now at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205.

Stay connected by subscribing to Talking Michigan Transportation e-mail updates.

Gov. Whitmer & Lt. Gov. Gilchrist on 4 Million Vaccines Administered 

Gov. Whitmer & Lt. Gov. Gilchrist on 4 Million Vaccines Administered 



March 29, 2021

Media Contact: [email protected]


Governor Whitmer & Lt. Governor Gilchrist on 4 Million Vaccines Administered


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist today issued the following statements after Michigan surpassed four million doses of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine:


“This weekend, Michigan surpassed 4 million doses administered of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines,” said Governor Whitmer. “Our rollout continues to pick up steam and we will not rest until we reach our goal of equitably vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and up. Michigan continues to make significant strides – administering four million vaccines in less than four months – as we work to ensure every Michigander has access to the vaccine. In line with President Biden’s goals, all Michiganders 16 and up will be eligible to receive the vaccine starting April 5. We will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever and celebrate Independence Day together with friends and family. We will become the state that beat this damn virus.”


To date, Michigan has administered 4,126,550 vaccines, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible. For 34 days the state has passed its goal of administrating 50,000 shots per day.


“We continue to meet or exceed our goals as more and more Michiganders become eligible to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said. Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “With every vaccine administered, we get one step closer to eliminating this deadly virus once and for all. I’m asking every Michigander to make a plan to get the vaccine when it is your turn. We can all be part of the solution that saves lives and helps us get back to normal. Soon we will be able to see and hug our friends, families, and loved ones, but for now we must continue taking smart precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing our hands.”


Both Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist will get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible under the next phase of vaccine administration guidelines.


DNR: News Digest – Week of March 29, 2021

DNR: News Digest – Week of March 29, 2021

Plus, check out the story of Helen Mandeville Martin for #WomensHistoryMonth

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News Digest – Week of March 29, 2021

forest road header

State forest road maps are updated and available online starting April 1.

Some of this week’s stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers’ needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state’s natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used in this digest are available below at the end of the email.

Photo ambassador snapshot: A Muskallonge Moment

sp ambassadorWant to see more stunning pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Erick Rooker at Muskallonge Lake State Park in Luce County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

See a baby wild animal? Observe from a distance

baby birdsEach spring brings a new generation of wildlife, and while you’re enjoying the sights of the season, be sure to give wildlife plenty of space to raise their young while you watch from a distance.

Young animals are often left alone, but the parents are never far. This is especially true for rabbits and fawns.

“One survival strategy wild mammal moms use is hiding their young while they are elsewhere, but don’t worry; they will return periodically to nurse and care for the babies,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator with the DNR. “This tactic helps young animals stay safer from predators while mom goes elsewhere to avoid drawing attention to where they’re hidden.”

Eventually, the youngsters will be strong and fast enough to venture out on their own or accompany their mother.

“As we get later into spring and into the summer you might see fledgling birds hopping around on the ground, and this is completely normal,” said Schauer. “These fluffy youngsters are getting old enough to start trying to fly and need more space than the nest has. Their parents aren’t far and will continue to feed and care for them.”

Never remove an animal from the wild. Young animals are rarely abandoned and their best chance for survival is to remain in the wild.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal in Michigan.

Learn more about what to do if you find a baby animal and get a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators at Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Updated forest road maps available online April 1

orvThousands of miles of Michigan’s state forest roads are open for the public to use and explore. Under Public Act 288 of 2016, the DNR annually updates maps of state forest roads and notifies the public of any changes. New maps will be available online April 1 in an interactive web format and as printable PDF maps.

Maps are updated each year based on changing road conditions, data cleanup and input received from public comment periods. Maps show which state forest roads are open to off-road vehicle use. It’s important to stay on these roads to prevent damage to the environment and wildlife habitat in these areas.

After the annual road inventory and review,  the following will be open to ORVs:

  • In the Upper Peninsula, more than 6,312 miles –  roughly 98% of the total mileage.
  • In the northern Lower Peninsula, about 6,101 miles – roughly 84% of the total mileage.
  • In the southern Lower Peninsula, just over 9 miles of forest roads.

Review ORV rules, regulations, closures and more at Michigan.gov/ORVInfo. Find updated maps and other information at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads.

Questions? Contact Kristen Matson at [email protected] or Tim Webb at [email protected].

Connect with outdoors via DNR social channels

social snapshotLike most organizations getting started in social media more than a decade ago, the DNR took its first step on Facebook. Some staffers even remember the excitement at reaching 10,000 followers – a big milestone at the time.

Today, the department’s online presence has grown to include Instagram (48,000 followers), Twitter (40,000 followers), YouTube (9,000 subscribers) and Pinterest (5,100 monthly viewers). And that DNR Facebook page? It’s now up over 238,000 followers!

The DNR has evolved socially from simple information posts to livestream tours of state fish hatcheries and Q&A sessions with wildlife and fish biologists and conservation officers, as well as plenty of short videos that help tell the story of outdoor recreation in Michigan.

“Our social media presence was even more critical in 2020 when people were increasingly eager to find outdoor spaces where they could spread out and just relax,” said Tyler Czarnopis, the DNR’s social media coordinator. “Because of our strong social connections, we were able to help people find nearby state parks, state forests, trails, hunting and fishing opportunities and many other resources that were helpful in navigating life during the pandemic.”

The DNR’s social accounts (67 in all, including dozens of individual state park Facebook pages and a state parks Instagram feed) are among the most active in state government. Czarnopis said the DNR receives over 75,000 messages a year through the department’s social channels.

“Looking ahead, we’re going to rely on our social channels throughout 2021, too, as the DNR celebrates its centennial year,” Czarnopis said. “Watch our platforms for centennial stories, programs and events, as well as creative ways to safely celebrate and learn about Michigan’s amazing natural and cultural resources.”

Connect with all of the DNR’s social platforms through the links above or at Michigan.gov/DNRSocial – where you’ll also find social links for the Michigan History Center and Mackinac State Historic Parks!

ICYMI: Mapping Michigan this #WomensHistoryMonth

helen mandeville martinHelen Mandeville Martin (1889-1973) was a renowned geologist, educator and nature photographer. Her career as geologist and editor for the Michigan Geological Survey (part of the Michigan Department of Conservation, the forerunner of the modern Michigan DNR) began in 1917.

She created many Michigan maps, collected historical land surveying documents and played a critical role in conservation education. She was inducted in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.

In case you missed it, reproductions of two of her geological maps are available as prints and puzzles at the Michiganology.org shop!


Now’s a good time to start planning your next stay at a state park or state harbor. Make a reservation and have your Recreation Passport handy. Don’t forget to brush up on camping rules & regs!


Want to show your support for the DNR? Check out These Goods are Good for Michigan and see the partners who help us raise awareness and support for state parks, trails and waterways.


The public is our first line of defense in the fight against invasive species. Study up on invasive threats, keep an eye out when you’re traveling or recreating and report any invasive species you see.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions and photo credit information follow.

Baby birds: Keep your distance when observing wildlife. Young animals are often left alone, but the parents are never far. Learn more about what to do if you find a baby animal.

Helen Mandeville Martin: Helen Mandeville Martin was a renowned geologist, educator and nature photographer. Reproductions of two of her geological maps are available as prints and puzzles at the Michiganology.org shop.

Lower Michigan geological map: Helen Mandeville Martin created many Michigan maps, collected historical land surveying documents and played a critical role in conservation education. Reproductions of two of her geological maps are available as prints and puzzles at the Michiganology.org shop.

Social snapshot: Connect with all of the DNR’s social platforms through the links above or at Michigan.gov/DNRSocial – where you’ll also find social links for the Michigan History Center and Mackinac State Historic Parks!

ORV: The DNR annually updates maps of state forest roads and notifies the public of any changes. Find updated maps and other information at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads./

Enjoy responsible recreationStay informed, stay safe: Mask up MichiganDNR COVID-19 response

SMART launches SMART Flex, first on-demand transit service

SMART launches SMART Flex, first on-demand transit service

SMART launches SMART Flex, Detroit’s first on-demand transit service with Via

SMART Flex will extend access to public transit and provide trips to vaccine centers across the Detroit Metro area through a mobile app

Detroit – SMART, in partnership with Via, the leader in TransitTech, announces a first-of-its-kind mobility solution for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties that will transform the way residents are able to access public transit. This week SMART began to operate its on-demand public transit service, called SMART Flex which will complement and extend the reach of convenient service in its existing transit system.

“SMART is taking several giant steps forward with the introduction of the Flex service, it helps to better meet the varying transit needs across the region with quick, affordable service,” said Kahlil Rahal, Chairman, SMART Board of Directors and Wayne County Deputy County Executive. “The new SMART Flex service in Dearborn, Troy and the Hall Road corridor is a flexible, technology based, vital transit service that helps people to easily move around to get to the places they need to go.”

Cities across the globe like Berlin, Miami, and Seattle rely on digitally-enabled transit solutions to create flexible, equitable, and resilient public transportation networks. SMART Flex is the Authority’s first venture into microtransit, and will strengthen a comprehensive transit network across the region by encouraging first-and-last mile connections to existing bus routes including SMART’s successful FAST service. The service will also facilitate local trips to hospitals, universities, and commercial destinations.

Using the SMART Flex mobile app, anyone within the zones, including residents and workers in Dearborn, Troy, and the Hall Road corridor between Utica and New Baltimore will be able to hail a vehicle directly from their smartphone or by calling the call center at (734) 212-8429. Via’s advanced algorithms create quick and efficient trips by matching passengers and vehicles together in real time, and directing riders to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick up and drop off. The service will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and offer door-to-door service for those with limited mobility. SMART is hosting community events this week to increase awareness of the new service in each of the three areas.

“The launch of SMART Flex is a pivotal moment for transit in the Metro Detroit area,” said Daniel Ramot, Via CEO and co-founder. “A technology-enabled mobility solution will enhance and extend the strong transit network that SMART has already established, and offer a new way for residents to access critical opportunities across the region.”

SMART Flex will offer microtransit trips from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Rides start at $2, with a maximum price of $8, depending on distance. Payment can be made by credit card or with Dart or SMART Passes. The SMART Flex app is available in English and Arabic. When a rider combines both SMART fixed route service and SMART Flex to complete their trip, the first $2 of the ride are included as part of the fixed route total fare – providing more convenient service as part of a fixed route trip.

SMART Vax Transportation Eliminates Transit as a barrier for Vaccinations
Technology-enabled transit allows the service to be flexible, and allows SMART to make informed decisions throughout the duration of this initiative based on the changing needs of the community. As a result, SMART decided to launch free rides to-and-from vaccination sites in Metro Detroit starting on March 10th, without the need for a private vehicle. Trips to vaccine centers are door-to-door, and are available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This offering is in addition to the microtransit service. SMART was able to use Via’s flexible transit platform to adjust and expand the SMART Flex service area for vaccination trips as more vaccine sites open throughout the region. To date, SMART has directly provided more than 500 rides for residents to get their vaccination helping to eliminate transit as a barrier.

The microtransit service is an added transit service that will help SMART’s effort, as a transit provider, to ensure a ride is available for anyone in the region to get vaccinated.

“SMART is excited to launch SMART Flex in these three zones across our region to start the next innovation in public transportation” said Robert Cramer, Deputy General Manager of SMART. “This service builds on SMART’s most successful and convenient fixed routes to provide convenient service across these entire zones.”

Via works with more than 200 partners in over 20 countries to help connect more people to transit, including Green Bay Metro, Columbus Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), and Sydney’s Transport for New South Wales

About SMART:
Serving residents since 1967, SMART is southeast Michigan’s regional public transportation provider, offering convenient, reliable and safe transportation for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. SMART fixed route, small bus and the new Flex on-demand services connect people to employment and educational institutions, medical appointments and shopping centers. For routes and fare information, and COVID-19 Updates, visit smartbus.org.

About Via:
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to power public mobility systems, optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, and autonomous vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of a personal car at a much reduced environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, with 200 global partners on six continents, and counting.